To the editor:
I just finished reading the article “Good boy or bad dog? Nahant pet facing potential extradition” by Anthony Cammalleri. It was irresponsible, embarrassing journalism with a title that is completely misleading and includes non-truths about the victim in this case.
I am a neighbor of the victim, Emily Spinucci, and as is the case in so many small towns, the victim is further victimized by rumor and conjecture. I am a dog owner and professed dog lover. I never believe my dog is capable of any atrocity as I love and live with my dog. However, dogs are animals and we must be mindful of their behaviors and respectful to the humans around us when we take on the responsibility of raising a dog.
Mr. Cammalleri states in the first paragraph of the article that Emily “grabbed him by the collar.” If Mr. Cammalleri was in the hearing as I was, listening to every word, he would have heard her say she never had a chance to grab the collar. She waited until the dog completed his business, allowed him to sniff the familiar hand that had been petting him moments earlier at his home, and then started to slip her other hand under the collar. Before she could grab it, he bit her outstretched hand.
The title also leads one to believe that this dog will be returned to Nahant in shackles, a firing squad awaiting his arrival. The lawyer made it clear that bringing the dog back was highly unlikely.
However, since David Horrigan, the dog’s owner, had asked the Spinuccis what he could do to make it right and their only request was to euthanize the dog so no small child or other innocent person could be brutally attacked, it seemed surprisingly sneaky to ship the dog off to Atlanta the day before the hearing, removing the power from the hands of the hearing officer to enact justice however she sees fit. The idea behind bringing him back is to allow the hearing the power it was designed to have: to rule on the fate of the dog based on evidence.
I saw Emily the day after the attack. She was unrecognizable, covered in bandages, her face swollen and red beyond comprehension. She had a concussion and was limping in pain. Emily sustained 12 puncturing dog bites. That’s not a dog that’s been “provoked” by human error and bit the person, that’s an attack. A mauling.
I accidentally stepped between two fighting dogs once and was bitten in the knee; the dog immediately knew it hit something and recoiled. I was not bitten again. This dog continued to pursue her, biting her a dozen times. As per doctor’s orders, she has been unable to return to work and may lose the rest of the school year; a very difficult position for a high school assistant principal. This attack has been life-altering for her.
I don’t profess to know the right answer. I don’t envy Jennifer McCarthy, who handled the proceedings professionally, fairly, and with her usual integrity. No one wins here. But to write an article that paints such an unfair and slanted view is dangerous and irresponsible.
(Editor’s Note: Item reporter Anthony Cammalleri virtually attended the entire May 31 hearing via Zoom. Contrary to the above letter, when asked by the hearing officer if she grabbed the dog’s collar, Emily Spinucci responded, “My fingers got in his collar.“ When reenacting her encounter with Tucker, she said she called out to the dog “while he is taking his poop.” She added that she “went to his side to grab his collar.”)